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Image by SJ Objio

Making Space

Yoga philosophy speaks of five koshas, or energetic sheaths moving inward from our physical body to our energetic field, or subtle body. When we practice the discipline of yoga, we practice on all five koshas as a united mind-body.

The physical body is called the ammamaya kosha. Amma means food in Sanskrit and maya is the illusion or appearance of the phenomenal world. Our food body is our physical being; what we see, feed and touch on the physical plane. When we physically stretch our muscles, practice diaphragmatic breath and digest food that builds a healthy microbiome, we alter our ammamaya kosha, literally creating healing space.

On an energetic level, we also create space in the other sheaths – pranamaya kosha (the energy or breath body), manomaya kosha (brain/emotional body), vijnanamaya kosha (wisdom body), and the deepest internal sheath of all, the anandamaya kosha (bliss body).

The Anandamaya kosha is underdeveloped in most people, as we progress through the suffering of human existence and take on the scars of our actions and reactions. But opening our hearts creates space to glimpse pure joy.

Many religions speak of our body as a temple. If we begin to view our body as sacred space, we begin to treat ourselves with greater care, developing ahimsa (non-harm) as a guiding precept. Ask yourself, What am I feeding my body? What am I feeding my heart? How is it serving me?

Metaphorically, when we feed our heart, we generate love. We “spark joy”, as anyone who has read Marie Kondo’s book “the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” knows. Kondo recommends a method of letting go of material objects that no longer serve us by literally holding it up and asking it if it sparks joy.

Clearing clutter from our homes and lives is always good, but how are we cleaning our hearts of clutter that is preventing us from letting in more joy? How are we discarding stale emotions that no longer serve us?

How do we reach across the aisle and create space to co-exist with other people, microorganisms in our gut, or opposing ideas that we are resisting. Are we doubting our path? Are we skeptical we should even begin to let our guard down? Are we constricting or expanding?

Perhaps we are asking: Who can I let into my circle that looks and acts like me? This is a comfortable place to be. We love our friends and family (most of the time).

In yoga, we seek to go beyond our comfort zone. An even bigger expansive question might be “How do I love?”

Perhaps you might sit with this question in stillness this week and see how your body responds.

Does your throat constrict?

Does your stomach feel butterflies?

Does your temple throb?

Do your joints burn?

Notice how emotions present in your body as physical sensations, especially when we ask bigger questions of the universe.

When I focus on peace and healing, I feel my temples expand, my neck release, my lungs inflate and my heart rise.

Creating space in the mind and heart may take a lifetime. It may feel like a long, slow burn, but it can also be a delightful journey. As we examine our actions and reactions in this short human life, a joyful spark can ignite a sacred flame.

Be swift to love. Make haste to be kind.


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